Does A Weak Economy Mean The Death Of "The 10 MPH Cushion"?
In a number of municipalities, decreases in tax receipts seem to be followed by an increase in traffic tickets according to USA Today [Hat Tip: ClutchCarGo]. Surprised? Clearly you don’t read much of our coverage of the proliferation of speed cameras. It’s no surprise that cities turn to speed cameras to shore up budget gaps, as the companies that sell automated ticketing machines regularly highlight the revenue upsides of their products to politicians. But what about “the cushion,” the five to ten mile per hour grace given by gentlemanly police officers to motorists just barely over the speed limit?
Unsurprisingly, the officers quoted in the story insist that they enforce the law no matter what, but USA Today points to a study that showed local citations typically go up in years after a tax revenue shortfall. Meanwhile, Canton, OH, gave out four times as many tickets in January as they did in January 2009 [ed: was that you Jack Baruth?], more jurisdictions are considering “super speeder” tickets, and we’re even seeing taxes on speeding tickets. Hell, even public transportation is figuring out that more enforcement equals more cash. None of which should come as much surprise at all: TTAC’s “speed law” expert Casey W. Raskob warned motorists of the dangers of cash-starved local governments over a year ago. So, whether you live in a state that actively targets motorist-based revenue or not, watch out. Speed kills… budget shortfalls. But only if you get caught.